What? Take your wedding dress APART?

We’ve all heard about people taking old heirloom wedding dresses that had deteriorated beyond use and repurposing the useful sections for christening gowns, pillows, quilts, and other special new uses, but when my daughter, married just over a year and expecting her first child, asked me to use her wedding dress to make the baby’s christening gown, my first reaction was, “Are you kidding?  No way!”  Actually, that was what I said in my head.  I was stunned and didn’t say anything at all at first, which was the right choice. It gave me a moment to think and it gave my daughter an opening to explain her reasoning.    Her dress, as gorgeous and expensive as it was, would not be in fashion long.  It would probably not be at all useful to any daughter she might have, and her sister would not want to wear it, so why keep it?  I am a strong advocate of re-purposing and recycling, so at least trying to reuse the dress appealed to my “tree-hugger” side, as my husband calls it.  My daughter was right, and I agreed to take on this challenge.

Her gorgeous dress has now sat in my living room for over a month, and I just could not bring myself to get a seam ripper near it until last night.  When I started, I decided I needed to document the metamorphosis this dress will undergo, to remember the beauty that it was before, and see the butterfly it may become.  Well, that is my hope anyway.  We will see if I can pull it off.  The dress is a very heavy polyester satin, so I may use the dress to make a quilt for the baby and make the christening gown out of batiste, as I originally planned.  But before I decide, I need to get the dress apart and see what the fabric offers.

Here are some pictures of the gown before deconstruction began.

So, where to start?  It was well-made and all the seams appeared to be inside between the layers of fabric.

The back bustle was made from a godet of three (3) tiers of lace, two (2) of which were gathered and sewn on in two (2) rows.

I decided to remove these rows of lace first.  I found that they were gathered with one line of gathering stitches, and then were sewn onto the top layer of the dress.  They were also incorporated into the seams, so I would need to undo the dress seams to completely remove these ruffles entirely.

The first seam I tackled was the long center back seam.  I discovered a wide horsehair braid at the hem, and I was surprised by the wide seam allowance the full length of the seam.  I also discovered another layer of the gown, the underlining.

So now there was the attached petticoat, the lining, the underlining, and the outer layer of fabric.  Although it’s always been my dream to create a wedding dress, I now think I’ll pass on that one.  Wow!

The seam allowances were different widths, depending on the placement on the dress.  The long”stress” seams, like the center back, had very wide seam allowances.

Here is the outer fabric with its underlining visible.  The underlining is a heavy woven fabric.  Not as heavy as canvas, but about as heavy as a twill, just without the twill weave.  I feel I should know what it’s called, so if anyone knows its name, please share that with me.  Thanks.

I also found that in some places the outer skirt was tacked to the lining through the lace in several spots. To reinforce the tack stitches, there was a folded piece of satin fabric on the inside of the lining.

I now have the back seam open as far as the top of the bustle, I’ve separated the outer fabric from the lining all the way around at the hem, and I have one of the long seams holding the lace panels in place partly open.  More discoveries await me next time, I’m sure.







© Sherilyn Siegmund-Roach and Cherished Needle Creations

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Creating a Christening Gown from a Wedding Dress – cleaning the fabric « cherishedneedlecreations
  2. Trackback: Designing a satin christening gown « cherishedneedlecreations
  3. Pat
    Oct 06, 2018 @ 18:39:52

    You have done what I want to do w my wedding dress I wore in 1979. It was custom made for my sister and then I wore it. So I’m excited to be following you on your creation.


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